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Feb. 29, 2012
Leap Day. I’ve never really “celebrated” Leap Day before… I supposed it’s because I would forget any tradition I tried to start by the time it rolled around again four years later. I always feel in a celebratory mood, though as we pass from February to March. It seems that no matter how nasty March may be, at least it gives a promise of spring in longer days, earthy smells, wind and puffy clouds.
I also start getting really excited for calving at this time of year. Last week, our registered heifers, who are bred to begin calving in mid-April, got their first scour guard shot and were trucked home from the Elwood ranch. We moved the cows off stalks day before yesterday to a pasture where they’ll graze until April first when we trail them home. The commercial herd at the Elwood ranch will begin calving at the very end of March. So we’re all getting things in line during the next three to four weeks to be prepared for the craziness that calving brings. Even uneventful calving is packed with activity.
Last weekend we weighed in A.J., the 4-H steer. We’re off on the long and winding 4-H road! Johanna, our oldest daughter, who is the novice 4-H’er was sick with a sore throat and fever from Thursday through Sunday. But I “treated” her with enough cough drops and children’s Tylenol to get her through the weigh-in process. A.J. acted like a sweetheart, which he is, and Johanna acted like and eight-year-old who doesn’t know what’s going on, which is what a first year 4-H’er often does, so all in all I think everything is right on track.
Time to take a breath... I uploaded the catalog to begin the printing process last night. Tomorrow I proof it for the last time at the printer's website, then it's going to press. Whew! After the past month of OS testing, BVD testing, semen testing, clipping, photographing, cataloging and footnoting of the 2010 crop; along with weaning and weighing the 2011 crop; along with weighing and moving the cows to stalks, it's been a busy time.
We had planned to video the cattle today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday), but a storm is moving in tonight with rain and snow forecast. We decided to push the videoing back to Thursday and Friday, so we didn't have Charlie, the video man, stranded here all week.
Things are coming together, and the catalog will be on-line within the next couple of days. December 12 will be here before we know it!
The transition is beginning from summer to fall. School started last week, so Johanna is off to 2 nd grade and Marie is spending her last full year of hard labor before she begins school in the fall of 2012. The garden produce is plentiful and delicious. The feed slab is glutted with wet distillers grain that will be mixed with low-quality forage and "piled" for winter feed. The Indian Grass and Big Bluestem have matured to wave their glorious seed-heads in the long sultry days. The cattle are slick, fat and generally contented.
It has been a wonderful summer, with plentiful grass and lovely rains. Our hearts hurt for our brethren who have dealt with the difficulty and heartbreak of drought and flooding this year. We continue to count our blessings and pray for those who desperately need a break from the heat and drought.
The foggy August mornings remind us that we're at a threshold between long hot summer days and ever-shortening crisp fall ones. Time just keeps whipping by at an ever-quicker pace, pulling us along through familiar yearly landmarks, while simultaneously thrusting new challenges and obstacles into our lives. Oh, what great joy there is never slowing down for boredom to overtake us!
The sale is less than two weeks away now, and the excitement is building! This time of year is full of anticipation--we count down to the sale and at the same time, we count down to Christmas. Advent calendars- here we come!
Today was my "Gramma" Elsie Ray Leistritz's birthday. She'd have been 97 years old today. I find it hard to believe that she's been gone 10 years. I still think of her often and wish that she could have seen my children. But her memory stays alive, as we continue that tradition she began 30 years ago of baking pies for the family bull sale. We're so blessed that Johanna and Marie can learn the tradition and art of pie making from another grandma--Scott's grandma, Shirley Ford. It's a fun season of inter-generational work, conversation and fun as we set aside time to bake pies, then store them in freezer until sale time.
We're a month away from sale, exactly, today. Several pies are in the freezer, the bulls and heifers look great, the catalog is printing, the advertising is circulating and the phone calls are coming in. Now most of the cattle work is finished and we're on to the next phase of cleaning, coordinating and calling. The excitement is building!
Nov. 3, 2010
Yesterday we finished taking the still pictures of the sale cattle! The weather and cattle were very cooperative and we completed the task in three days. The still photos are a tricky task because there are only a few hours in the day when the sun and the angle of the fences in the display pens combine to really make for good pictures. Add into the equation the unpredictability of the cooperativeness of the cattle, and you never know how it will go. This year, however, the weather was great, the cattle were relaxed and cooperative and the crew was enthusiastic and willing to learn the process.
The trimming/burning last week went well, too. There was only one minor injury when an athletic bull (who has been named "Jackie Chan" by Jose) kicked the chute gate and swung it into Patrick's chin. Patrick saw stars for a few minutes and got a small cut to mark the spot. The cattle look great now with the long hairs singed and cut off, and it's much easier to compare and analyze them now that they all have the same haircut.
The catalog is nearing completion--finally. It should be up on the website by next week and will be mailed around the middle of the month. It's a lot of work, but it's a project I enjoy and it always gets me focused on the cattle and the sale.
Johanna has been working on a school project for Veteran's Day. It has been a heart-warming and sobering experience to think about all of our family members who have fought for our country. I'm so thankful for all of our nation's veterans who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom. I hope we all remember to take time this Veteran's Day to pray for, thank and remember America's brave defenders of yesterday and today.
Oct. 24, 2010
Another week in October is over, and another large list of tasks have been finished. Most importantly, however, we received nearly an inch of much-needed rain--praise be to God!
It was a busy week of semen testing, fencing and weaning. The semen testing went very well. Dr. Marshall and his crew did a very fine job, once again. In between assisting with the bulls, Jose and Patrick built electric fence on cornstalks for winter grazing. On Friday, Jose and Patrick went to Elwood to help Kelly and Carlos wean the last group of calves up there. Our weaned calves here at home are doing very well and staying generally healthy.
My work on the sale catalog continues. This will be a big week of progress. Trimming/burning the sale bulls is also on the calendar for the week. There isn't a slow moment for a few weeks now!
It has been a gorgeous fall here. Not much moisture, but the working conditions have been fantastic. Around here this time of year, we appreciate all of the great days we get. Sale preparation is in full swing. The DNA samples are all at the lab for OS testing; semen testing is scheduled for next week, clipping the week after that; still catalog photos the next week, then videoing around the 8 th of November.
Yesterday we weaned the registered cows and calves. Last year we began fence-line weaning in the pasture and have loved it! The calves stay so relaxed and calm. The cattle are less stressed and so are we. At the end of this week, we'll take a mature weight on the cows and take them to cornstalks. The calves will remain on native range and two to three pounds of dried distillers grain.
December 9, 2009
Bull sale preparation has taken a detour as we've been concentrating on just getting the cattle fed and cared for in the face of a snow storm. Snow totals are difficult to estimate, since the wind has piled it in drifts. The common guess is around 10 inches of the fluffy white stuff, along with sub-zero temperatures and wind chills. The cattle have been pulled into protection and bedded with hay to make them as comfortable as possible. The sun is out today, with little wind, so it "feels" pretty good--comparatively.
We've had a few calls from people wondering if we're still having the sale as scheduled--to which we reply, "You bet!"
There is plenty of time to clear roads, scoop paths--and maybe even melt a little. Of course, these hardy Red Angus and Hereford cattle will hardly miss a beat and will be looking good as ever on sale day. We'll keep on with preparations and look forward to seeing everyone in a few days!
Nov. 29, 2009
It's that time of year again when our days are filled with the rush of excitement over the holidays and the upcoming sale. The catalogs have all been mailed, the video is online, the DVD has been copied and the cattle look great!
Since we left a snowy, wet October behind, November has been fairly mild. The bulls are in great condition--just how we like them. Buyers can see what they're buying without looking through fat. The bred heifers are running out on pasture and cornstalks with a few pounds of dried distillers grain for protein.
With the cattle in shape, we're turning our attention to cleaning the sale barn, organizing and getting the pieces in place for the big day. Of course, we always know that we'll be interrupted in our preparations by phone calls and visitors to look through the cattle. We welcome the conversations, questions and visits and look forward to many more in the next couple of weeks.
July 8, 2009
Here we are in the midst of the busy time for cattle work and breeding. The hot weather makes it a necessity to begin early in the morning as we try to have the cattle work done before noon, so the animals can return to shade and ponds to stay cool. Then we work on other projects in the afternoons. Of course, even though the days start early, it seems the ending time it always late, as we make the most of the long summer days.
The projects of late have included improving the corral system at the Elwood pasture; building a load-out facility at the sale barn; and addition and maintenance of auto gates. There is never a shortage of maintenance and repair, it seems.
The cattle work has been especially intense of late. Now that calving is finished, we’ve been vaccinating the calves and fly tagging the cows. Last week we placed CIDRs in 120 recipient cows to synchronize them for an embryo transfer on July 18. Also last week, we ultrasounded all of the yearling cattle. Yesterday, we placed CIDRs in over 200 purebred cows to synchronize them for AI next week. We’ll CIDR the two-year-old heifers next week to spread out the work load a bit.
We’re also in the season of pink-eye. We are in an area that seems to be a hot-spot for the malady. We’ve tried several different strategies for pink-eye—fly control, weed control, vitamin A & D shots and pink eye vaccination. Perhaps those efforts have made some difference, but we still have a steady occurrence of the infection. It takes a lot of time to check and treat for the illness. Although pinkeye isn’t lethal, it can cause ulceration and loss of sight in the eye if left untreated—and it seems to be quite painful for the cattle when they are infected. We treat them with an antibiotic and glue an eye patch over the eye to keep the sunlight out. Usually the cattle respond quickly to the treatment and have no ill effects from the pink-eye infection.
We are privileged to be included in a project conducted by the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC). Called the Weight Traits Project, the study includes seven different breeds of cattle and is attempting to find DNA markers for weight traits (birth, weaning and yearling) in cattle. Scientists hope this will lead to the use of molecular breeding values (MBVs), which would increase the accuracy of EPDs and, perhaps eventually, replace EPDs. Our involvement includes supplying DNA on our cattle. We pull hair from the switch of the tail and place it on a collection card for DNA extraction at the lab..
It’s been a beautiful mulberry year here in central Nebraska. Johanna, Marie and I have had a couple of expeditions to a grand old mulberry tree in a draw north of the sale barn. We’ve returned each time full of mulberries and stained dark purple. So far we’ve made a batch of jam and several mulberry/rhubarb crisps—much to the approval of the men at lunchtime.
June 13, 2009
It’s been a busy spring here—as everywhere. The world seems to keep speeding up each day! We started calving about a month earlier this year, so that has made a big difference in the “feel” of the year, so far. The cows started calving in the middle of April. Our grass starts growing here at about that time, so the timing worked well there. We also anticipate having most of the calves on the ground before we get much heat—a great advantage in our minds. There are just a handful of cows left to calve. The cows very successfully moved ahead the calving season without stringing it out.
We’ve had two interns here this spring and summer. Jay Palmer was here from March until June. He was fulfilling an internship for his schooling at Southeast Community College in Beatrice, Neb. Corey Cable is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He started in May and will be with us until August. Both are hard-working young men with great potential in the cattle industry. We feel very fortunate to have associations with them.
I spent most of this week in Denton, Texas at the Red Angus national headquarters for a board-of-directors meeting. I’m settling into my first year as director for Region B, and I’m really enjoying the experience. The directors are a very well-rounded group of people bringing a variety of experiences and expertise to the table. I still feel honored to be serving on the board. (Even after a three day board meeting!)
We’ve had great moisture and a long, cool spring this year. The grass is growing, the cows are happy and we’re staying busy. The next projects on the horizon are vaccinating calves, ultrasounding, embryo transfer and AI’ing. I’m still waiting for the mythical “slow time.”
February 28, 2009
It’s been a few months since I updated the journal. Let me fill in the blanks with what’s been happening here at Cross Diamond Cattle Company. After the sale in on December 8, the rest of the month was spent mopping up from that event. Of course, we found time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to spend time with family.
Scott has been on the road a lot in the past months delivering bulls. With our new take-home credit, a record number of bulls were loaded out sale day—about 60 head. That still left around 150 to deliver, and Scott has made a significant dent in those. He still has some long trips to make, but is getting closer. Of course, the work still needs to be done here at home, so he has to take a break now and then to help us with the bigger projects here.
The home crew consists of me, (and, of course Johanna and Marie!) Nick Brandyberry and Mike Scholz full time. This will be changing soon, as Mike has decided to pursue other interests and will be leaving the first of March. We wish him the best and are happy that he and his family will remain in the Bertrand area and will continue to consign bulls to the sale this December. We are lucky to have the help of Scott’s uncle, John Ford, and cousin, Jeff, part time. Mac Harshbarger, a senior in high school, also helps out after school and on weekends. Between feeding, checking, watering, moving and troubleshooting-- the cattle keep us all busy, but that’s what we like!
I’ve been spending the past weeks tied to the computer doing bookwork. I started with transferring the sale bulls, then moved on to the registrations of the 2008 calves. The weaning weights are recorded, now I’m preparing DNA hair samples to determine the sires of the non-AI calves. We run the cows with multiple sires during breeding to be more efficient in pasture and bull usage, then pull hair on the offspring at weaning to identify the sires before registration. It’s always interesting to get the DNA tests back.
Of course, my other full time job is being a mom to Johanna and Marie, who are five- and two-years-old. Johanna’s arm is healed nicely after she broke it in November. We went to physical therapy for a couple of months to strengthen it after the cast was removed. Johanna has now returned to gymnastics class and is tumbling happily with her friends again. Marie is becoming an independent little girl. “I do it myself!” is a common phrase from her. Both girls enjoy getting outside and working with the cattle and horses, as well as caring for the dogs and cats.
November 25, 2008
Here we are in the madness of sale season and holiday season. Both exciting times, but crammed with work. The sale cattle are looking great—the work with them was wrapped up around the first of November when we finished semen testing. October was packed with clipping, semen testing, catalog preparation, picture-taking and videoing. Now the cattle are able to relax for awhile.
We’re very excited about this sale offering. We have more bulls this year and the quality is fantastic! It’s a pleasure to have the great consignors/partners on board who are bringing great genetics to the sale, too. Not all of the bulls are exactly the same—each consignor has a little different breeding program. We think this helps our customers find cattle that fit into each of their own programs.
On a personal level, it’s been a busy fall. In September, Scott and I attended the Red Angus convention in Cheyenne. I was elected to the Red Angus board of directors, which is a great honor. I’m excited to serve the breed and take my turn as so many other great Red Angus breeders have done before me.
I was in Denton, Texas in November for new board member orientation when Scott called to tell me that Johanna had broken her arm. She fell as she was getting off the trampoline at gymnastics class. Although I felt a lot of guilt for my absence at the time, I also had great comfort in knowing that Scott was calmly and capably handling the situation. What a blessing to have such a wonderful partner in life!
We look forward to the next few weeks, as we talk to a lot of cattlemen and women across the nation. We look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones. Here’s to a blessed Thanksgiving, when we take time to recognize and appreciate all that God has given us and all that we have to share and pass on.
May 24, 2008
Memorial Day weekend has blown in with high winds and a lot a rain. We’ve had four inches in the past 24 hours. Some areas have had as much as six to eight inches. There have been a lot of flooding and mud problems. The creek bottom that cuts through our place is running so high we can’t cross it. We have to check the pasture where our calving cows are in two halves. We access one half from the headquarters, the other half is accessed by going around the gravel road and in through another pasture. We’re always thankful for the rain, however, as drought is still fresh in our minds from 2006.
Calving has been going well so far. It’s always an exciting time of year and fun to see the new calves running around. We’ve had three sets of twins in the past week. I just read an article stating that most twins are the result of the release of two eggs (fraternal twins), rather than the division of one egg (identical twins). The article went on to say that the double ovulation is in part genetic and in part good condition of the cow at breeding. Two of the cows are raising both calves and one cow decided she’d rather only keep track of one calf, so we have a bottle calf now. She's another chore, but a bottle calf is a good experience for Johanna and Marie.
We purchased the cowherd from rector Ranch in Montana earlier this year. The cows calved in February and March, so we had to find extra grass to run these pairs on for the summer. We’ll add the 1-A cows to our herd. There are about 60 head of 1-B cows that we’ll sell, as we don’t have the room to keep them. This is a very solid set of cows with nice udders and good structure. It will be exciting to watch their production with the rest of our herd.
Earlier this month I had a mishap on the four-wheeler and separated my shoulder. It has changed my involvement in some activities and has made things more difficult with the lifting and day-to-day activities of the girls. Apparently this is the month for freak four-wheeler trials. Scott was out in the pasture just last week and drove over a branch that jumped up and hit him in the face. Between his fat lips and my sling we’ve made a lovely couple!
Nick Brandyberry and family are almost moved into their new house in Bertrand. It will be nice for them to be settled and into a routine. Patrick Brinson, our summer intern from North Carolina is fitting in well. He’s discovering the many differences between here and there—namely the wind and sparce population. Patrick’s mother, Robin, was here last week to visit. She is a darling woman and a joy to have met.
April 22, 2008
I’m embarrassed to realize how long it’s been since I updated my journal entry. The winter months seemed to go by quickly with Scott delivering bulls and the rest of us working on feeding, book work and the day-to-day welfare of children and cattle.
As spring arrives each year, we see change each and every day. This spring we are dealing with another kind of change in our family. We are mourning the passing of Wayne Leistritz. “Uncle Wayne,” my granddad’s brother, was a wonderful gentleman who brought encouragement, happiness and joy to countless people. He was a patriot, stockman, craftsman, steward and mentor. We miss Uncle Wayne terribly, but are grateful for the moments we had with him during his 88 years.
Now April is here again with a whirlwind of cattle work, fence mending and calving preparation. Last week we worked the yearling cattle. Tomorrow we’ll number brand (freeze brand) the first-calf heifers and give the second shot of scour guard. Then they’ll go back to the pasture and be ready to begin calving in a couple of weeks. Mike Scholz has been cleaning and stocking the tag box. Now I need to start making the tags and we’ll be ready…
Nick Brandyberry and his family (wife, Stephanie and sons Nate, Carter and Tucker) will be moving to Bertrand in May. Nick will work with us here on the ranch and Stephanie will be teaching high school math in Lexingon. We’re excited to have Nick on board for his knowledge and experience in the Red Angus breed and his enthusiasm for cattle, people and the beef industry.
Patrick Brinson, a student at North Carolina State University, will join us this summer as an intern. He contacted us through the Red Angus Association’s junior internship program. We’re excited to meet Patrick and work with him this summer.
We’ll welcome Justin Paulson, along with his wife Tiffany and daughter, Leah, for the weekend at the first of May to help us synchronize and AI the commercial heifers. The Paulsons live in Montana now and run a purebred Charolais operation with Tiffany’s family. Justin also owns Precision AI and custom inseminates a number of cattle each year. Justin will help AI the commercial heifers that will sell as bred heifers in the sale this December.
Dec. 4, 2007
How time has flown since my last entry! With growing girls, AIing and sale preparations, the fall got away quickly. Sale preparations began in earnest in late September and early October as we began to bring cattle in off grass. Pregnancy checking and sorting the heifers followed soon after. After that, the bulls were divided into smaller groups, sorted for sale order, trimmed and semen tested. Then we took still photos for the catalog, put on the finishing touches and took the book to the printer. Videoing the cattle and horses for Superior was the order for a weekend in mid-November. Then it was time to pay attention to the mailing list, then label and mail the catalogs before Thanksgiving.
The sale barn was cleaned and spruced up for a family gathering over the Thanksgiving weekend when we enjoyed the first half of the Husker football game. (We don’t want to think about the second half…) After the holiday, we continued the sale barn clean-up and moved the bleachers and theatre seats into place.
This week is full of last minute sale preparation—fielding phone calls, replacing lost lot tags, re-semen testing the few bulls who needed a second check and moving the commercial heifers closer to the headquarters.
None of this preparation could be accomplished without the help and support of so many family, friends and neighbors. Although Thanksgiving seemed little more than a bump in the road amidst sale preparation, we did take time out to thank God for all of our many blessings. We hope you have been able to reflect on the richness of this season, and to begin to feel the glow of Christmas in you hearts.
As we march on through this week prior to our sale, we relish the opportunity to visit with cattlemen and women from around the country-- old friends and new.
July 24, 2007
Hot, humid July weather is upon us. It seems that a lot of time is spent checking cattle and keeping them and us hydrated and cool. We are planning to flush embryos from five of our cows on August 2, so those cows and their calves are close to the headquarters to receive several volleys shots according to the protocol. We have a sprinkler running in the corral for them to stand under during the day, so they can stay cool. They seem to appreciate that consideration, since we’ve taken them from the shade in the pastures.
The field day on July 14 was a great success! We had a great turn-out and served over 100 people for lunch. We had several compliments from those who came and enjoyed the day with us. We are very grateful to all those who attended and made the day such a fun time.
We’ve learned a lot about termites in the past month, or so. We had an old barn that Scott’s dad, Bill was fixing up for us. But the farther the project went, the more termite damage he found. They had eaten all the way up into the rafters! After a week of fixing and damage assessment, it finally became apparent that for all the best efforts, it was going to be more economical to tear the old one down and start over. (And treat for termites this time…) The new barn will have a dark box for AIing, a trouble stall, tack room and two other stalls for horses or cattle. It was also have storage and parking for four-wheelers. Since Bill has to start football practice and school in a few weeks, the building project is a high priority and is going up very quickly. What a blessing to have such a talented carpenter involved; and a double blessing that he is patient with all of us who aren’t so talented, but eager to help.
June 27, 2007
We are hosting the Nebraska Red Angus Breeders Field Day this year on July 14. Everyone is welcome and we encourage anyone with an interest to attend. Following is a schedule of events:
10:00 CST- Welcome
10:15- Ron Bolze, Red Angus Association of America, FCCP Opportunities
11:00- Blake Angell, Meyer Natural Angus Beef Marketing Cattle the Natural Way
1:30- Kit Waller, Superior Productions Bringing the Market to You
2:00- Ranch tour
4:00- Nebraska Red Angus Breeders meeting
6:00- Burgers for those still visiting
Please let us know if you think you can attend. We'll look forward to seeing friends and family for a fun day on July 14th!
June 18, 2007
Summer is definitely flying by as the calving progresses for us. We’ve had four sets of twins in the past week. Since the cows are calving in pastures, it is easy for one twin to get separated from the mother and lost. So we picked up three of the babies and now have bottle calves. One cow is raising both of her twins since we brought her up into a smaller lot closer to the headquarters and are keeping an eye on her and both calves.
We continue to be blessed with rain. We had over two-and-a-half inches this week. We can almost see the grass grow! We’ve planted a buffalo grass mixture in our display pens by the sale barn, so we were able to suspend watering for a few days on that. Megan Suchy, who is doing an internship here this summer, is the main grass waterer.
Mike and Roger Imig came from Lakeside early this week to cut the horns on the Hereford bulls. At the end of the week, we took the Herefords to grass. Now all of the bulls are out on grass and feeling very happy.
Andrew Ford, Scott’s first cousin, has been home on leave from Colorado Springs, Colo.. He will serve his second tour of duty in Iraq and will leave in about a month. We’ve enjoyed his help and company for the past couple of weeks.
Dale Leistritz came from North Platte with his four-wheeler and sprayer and joined the musk thistle team for a day. His help was greatly appreciated!
Our new garden shed/playhouse that was built by Bill’s (Scott’s dad) high school construction class arrived last week. It will be a handy (and cute) addition to the place. Grandpa has some great plans for the playhouse part of the building for his granddaughters. Bill's main project now is fixing up the barn. It needs structural work, then we'll add some stalls and other improvements.
May 31, 2007
May has been a beautiful month here in central Nebraska. We've had plentiful and timely rains right here at our place. What a difference a year makes!
The calving has been going very well. It's exciting to see the new babies coming, as always. It is fun to watch the older calves changing and growing as we check the pairs. Our 19-year-old cow, Belle 8029, had a heifer calf last week. Both cow and calf are doing great and looking good. Robin 4135, who has been a top producer for us through the years had her third set of twins in her 13 years. Carrying this set was pretty tough on her, but she is looking and feeling much better after calving.
Musk thistles are a top priority still at this time. Of course the rain has been beneficial for them, too. The goal is to get them sprayed while they are still growing fast and we can get a good kill. We also want to spray before they bloom and go to seed.
Although the cows didn't stop calving for Memorial Day, we took time to reflect on those great Americans who fought and gave their lives for our country and our freedom. Scott and I and the girls took time to decorate the graves of family in the area. It was a nice time to reflect and remember how fortunate and blessed we truly are.